" Game Magazines Have Sucked for Forever ": GFW's Jeff Green on the Future of Print Media

Sean Sands

Optimistic Cynic
Sep 14, 2006
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" Game Magazines Have Sucked for Forever ": GFW's Jeff Green on the Future of Print Media

Some suggest, in this digital age of instant information, print media for videogames has been obsolete for years and is only just now finding out. Others suggest print media can still be relevant, as long as it adapts to a changing reality of game journalism. And still others see traditional outlets as the only true professional game reporters on the block.

But, as the game magazine business and its consumers continue to figure out just where magazines belong in the digital age, the bloodletting has been brutal. Where some outlets have been forced to close, others have adapted to survive. The Escapist recently spoke with Jeff Green, Editor-In-Chief of Games For Windows Magazine (previously Computer Gaming World) about his thoughts on staying relevant and the current state of videogame magazines and videogame reporting.


***

The Escapist: So, let's start big picture. How would you characterize the state of print gaming magazines?

JG: Things will make more sense over time, sure. What do each need to do to improve? If I answer that and everyone listens, then all my competition will get better and shut me out of business! But to try to answer anyway ...

Online: I'd say take a little more time to edit and proofread your articles. I just read some truly embarrassing stuff today, from one of the more supposedly "professional" sites. I mean, we're talking basic grammar here. Don't swallow every goddamn little crumb of hype that the game companies toss to us, like fish to seals, and post it as if it was some revelatory big scoop. Exercise more critical judgment.

On the print side: Get over yourselves. It's over. Your reign has ended. Adapt to the 21st century now, or go away forever. You can have a great monthly product that people will be happy to read on buses, planes, couches and restrooms everywhere. But you will be a dinosaur in the tar pits if you don't adjust your editorial to reflect the fact that, 90 percent or more of the time now, you can't possibly print something "new" that hasn't appeared online already. So get creative. Use real writers. Show some depth and give people something beyond the old-school previews/reviews mediocrity mill. This can be a liberating time if you just take the chance.

TE: Since re-branding, how has Games For Windows Magazine been doing? How's the mood around the office?

JG: Well, people can find us in stores now, so that's cool. And the mood is quite good here, actually. We're enjoying both the chance to experiment with more creatively interesting articles, and to goof off so freely on the podcast.

The actual name of the magazine has still not exactly gotten much easier to say without cringing somewhat, and that has not been helped by the less-than-stellar rollout of the entire GFW platform so far, but, hey, far be it from me to bite the hands that feed! I love you, Microsoft!

Seriously, they've put up with a lot of grief with us so far, and I am grateful so far that they have kept their word with us about "editorial independence." I haven't even gotten a call yet about my last column, in which I flat out said that GFW Live "sucks ass." But we'll see. If I disappear suddenly after this interview, you'll know why.

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Alch

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Dec 4, 2006
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I was pretty worried when the whole GFW mag happened but it is pretty nice to see that they can still say things like Vista sucks, Live sucks. As a reader lets me know they are not just mouthpieces for MS.

I read so much of my news online that I am hardly shocked by something I see in a print mag now days. I still like having something in my hand to read and to run in the next room and point it out a feature of a upcoming game. Then again I could just be showing my age.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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I was a long-time CGW reader, eventually switching to PCG because of CGW's precipitous quality decline (which I trace back to the day the magazine decided to start using ratings at the end of reviews, although Johnny Wilson's departure was probably what struck the mortal blow) before dropping print magazines altogether. I'd really love to be a print customer again, mainly because I'm an avid reader on the crapper, but with the current state of gaming mags, it ain't gonna happen.

Magazines like GFW and PCG don't offer me anything that I can't get online, and they offer it slower and in monthly doses only. For this, they want to charge me over ten bucks (CDN) an issue? I don't think so. I can get it free, I can get it faster and I can get it from a dozen varied perspectives, all online.

But I do agree with Green that print magazines haven't necessarily had the biscuit at this point. They can remain relevant if they are able to find their niche. An example: I've subscribed for years now to Macleans magazine, "Canada's weekly news magazine." I have up to the frikkin' second news coverage on my computer, which I spend a significant portion of every day sitting in front of anyway; Macleans, on the other hand, talks about shit that happened last week. But year after year, I throw money at them for more of it, because they do what CNN, CBC, BBC, etc., don't: offer in-depth analysis and commentary from some of the top writers in the country. It's the difference between a talking point and actually knowing what you're talking about.

Give me a print mag that can do that consistently, and I'm in. Reviews? Got 'em. News? By the time the print mags get to it, it ain't. "More of the same" will not save them. We're talking about a pretty fundamental change, but without that, you can just insert your favourite dinosaur analogy here and call it quits.
 

KyanMehwulfe

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Oct 14, 2003
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Even just a few years ago, you'd still see a few of the larger revealments broken in mags, despite the growth of online sites at that point. But now that element is weakening as well. It's affecting sites, too, in some regards. Developers and publishers of said big games are realizing they don't even need a middleman, they can have their own event (or previously use E3 as a soapbox) and release everything directly themselves online.

StarCraft 2 was the perfect example of this. The exclusives may follow, but the big revealment skipped the middleman. It went from Blizzard directly to the gamer.
 

drunkymonkey

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Dec 12, 2006
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As a UK gamer, I've often been told that publications in the UK are of higher quality than those in the US. An example of this would be PC Gamer. While looking in a massive bookstore which has a lot of imported goods, I stumbled upon PC Gamer US, and was shocked to see how small it was. For me though, the biggest surprise was that it was made of cheaper material than the sturdy PC Gamer UK is. I was quite surprised at that.

I've been through tonnes of magazines in my time. I have a big blue box full of them, ranging from 1997 editions of the piss-poor Playstation Plus, to Official Playstation 1 and 2 Magazines, to PC Zone and PC Gamer, and currently, and most satisfactorily, EDGE.

This website has always reminded me of EDGE in its maturely written articles. Indeed, EDGE's tagline is "Videogame Culture" and is highly respected throughout the UK games industry. Indeed, job adverts often appear here, and it's well known that developers and publishers alike are regular readers of the magazine, reading considered, non-hype previews (ironically, the preview section is called "Hype"), reviews, and general articles about the industry.

For further reading, you should check the Wikipedia page out.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_magazine

Currently I think the best magazine on the market, and very insightful to read. Worth an import.
 

Arbre

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Jan 13, 2007
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drunkymonkey said:
As a UK gamer, I've often been told that publications in the UK are of higher quality than those in the US. An example of this would be PC Gamer. While looking in a massive bookstore which has a lot of imported goods, I stumbled upon PC Gamer US, and was shocked to see how small it was. For me though, the biggest surprise was that it was made of cheaper material than the sturdy PC Gamer UK is. I was quite surprised at that.

I've been through tonnes of magazines in my time. I have a big blue box full of them, ranging from 1997 editions of the piss-poor Playstation Plus, to Official Playstation 1 and 2 Magazines, to PC Zone and PC Gamer, and currently, and most satisfactorily, EDGE.

This website has always reminded me of EDGE in its maturely written articles. Indeed, EDGE's tagline is "Videogame Culture" and is highly respected throughout the UK games industry. Indeed, job adverts often appear here, and it's well known that developers and publishers alike are regular readers of the magazine, reading considered, non-hype previews (ironically, the preview section is called "Hype"), reviews, and general articles about the industry.

For further reading, you should check the Wikipedia page out.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_magazine

Currently I think the best magazine on the market, and very insightful to read. Worth an import.
Yes, the magazine is very good. The only one I care to buy, actually.
 

jimduckie

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Mar 4, 2009
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gee the one advantage of a magazine is portability ,a lot easier to read in the bathroom ... as for magazines in general , they are ok but the net gets the info out sooner but sometimes not as reliable and the prices of the magazines are crazy especially in canada were the price is higher
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
17,032
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I still love Official Xbox Magazine. They give out free DLC on occasion, I got two Oblivion add-ons for free. Wizard's Tower and Thieves' Den.